Old Goa used to be the capital when Goa was a colony under Portuguese rule. Often referred to as Velha, Old Goa is located 10km east of Panaji. Old Goa exudes an atmosphere that is truly unique and distinctive and this can be credited to the fact that it contains a large number of old churches. Some of them retain their aura and magnificence while others in a state of ruin still possess a distinctive charm. History buffs, heritage aficionados or religious minded souls will find plenty to keep them occupied for at least half a day in Old Goa. The churches in Goa are important sites not only from the religious perspective but also from the heritage and tourism aspect. Hence, any comprehensive Goa travel guide will certainly include some of these churches as major tourist attractions. Most of these churches date back to 16th century and are particularly known for their different kinds of architectural styles. Most of the styles reflect the prevalent architectural trends in Europe such as Baroque, Classical and Manuline.
When planning a tour of Old Goa one needs to be armed with all the essential information because navigating through this area can become difficult if one is not aware of what to see. Here is a list of some of the churches in Goa that are quite popular as tourist attractions and do deserve a special mention.
Basilica of Bom Jesus: Dedicated to infant Jesus, this church belongs to the Jesuit order and is considered to be a World Heritage Monument and is a part of any reliable Goa travel guide. The Jesuit order started building the church in 1594 and it was finally consecrated in 1605. This church is also famous for housing the mortal relics of St. Francis Xavier in a silver casket atop a three tier marble tomb. The extremely famous Italian sculptor Battistta Fogini was responsible for carving the tomb.
Se Cathedral: This is one of the churches in Goa that definitely deserves a visit due to its spellbinding and impressive structure and surroundings. Dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, this magnificent cathedral is known for its Portuguese style of architecture infused with Corinthian and Tuscan sensibilities. Built in the 16th century, it is believed that this is one of the largest churches in Asia. The unique and also an interesting aspect of this church are the five huge bells among which the most famous one is the ‘Golden Bell’. The bell resonates with a tone that is based on a Portuguese poem. Old paintings adorn the two sides of the altar that depict scenes from the life of St. Catherine of Alexandria.
Church of St. Cajetan: Situated north east of Se Cathedral, this is also one of the most beautiful churches in Goa. Even though it is popularly known as Church of St. Cajetan, it was originally named as the Church of Our Lady of Divine Providence. The church has been named after the St. Cajetan who founded the Theatine order while the altar is dedicated to Our Lady of Divine Providence. The façade of the church is truly impressive depicting Corinthian style of architecture.